Which is more romantic: the produce aisle or the meat counter?
Hy-Vee wants to find out.
In February, the West Des Moines-based grocery store chain plans to start filming a dating show series for release on Hy-Vee’s digital streaming platform, the Helpful Smiles TV network (HSTV). The first season of the show, "Love at First Bite," includes eight episodes around 10 minutes long with a different couple cast in each.
Contestants go on a blind date, and they must shop for Hy-Vee groceries before preparing a meal together, according to Sara Canady, vice president of HSTV.
"Love at First Bite" producer Kristian Day previously worked on the production team for "The Bachelor."
“It brings the dating show concept to a new playing field with the grocery store,” Canady said. “Participants will meet at Hy-Vee for the first time, they’ll shop for groceries together, make a meal, and we’ll be able to experience what that connection looks like.”
While casting is closed, Canady said producers on the show haven’t yet locked in couples or a host for "Love at First Bite." Depending on how the series goes, Canady said HSTV might film follow-up episodes featuring couples who stayed together or showing what contestants' dating lives are like after the show.
“We like to look at what’s popular, what’s trending and how we can play into that,” Canady said about the inspiration for the "Love at First Bite" series. “We’ll see how it performs, and we are hoping for a couple seasons that we would launch each year.”
Some of the recipes that contestants will be tasked with cooking come from Hy-Vee’s "Seasons Magazine" and will be available on hy-vee.com, Canady said.
Men and women who answered the casting call come from all over the Midwest.
“The majority of applicants for this first season are from Iowa, with a good amount from the central Iowa area,” Canady said. “There are applicants from seven other Midwestern states as well.”
Hy-Vee first launched HSTV in October 2018, adopting an educational format with cooking explanations and bartending tips and tricks. Last October, the network relaunched as a dual streaming and shopping network, where viewers can directly purchase products that hosts demonstrate on the shows.
Canady said the streaming network seemed like an opportunity for the grocery store chain to connect with its customers outside of traditional advertising.
“Billions of hours are spent consuming video on platforms like YouTube and all of the social media platforms, and I think we saw that as an opportunity to engage with our consumers in a completely different way, creating content for them that would help them through their everyday lives," Canady said.
"Love at First Bite" joins 12 other web-based shows on the HSTV platform, including the popular "Cake This!" series showcasing Hy-Vee cake designers and "The Beard Behind the Bar," with Des Moines mixologist Jeff Naples.
"The Beard Behind the Bar" has been “one of our most popular shows that has been on the network since the inception,” Canady said.
This year, Canady said the network will also add a series called "Decadent Dishes on a Dime" with Tamara Day, host of HGTV’s "Bargain Mansions." Celebrity chef Fabio Viviani, who appeared on "Top Chef" in 2008, will also host a new HSTV show in February that features Italian cooking.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, Hy-Vee claimed Day was a producer on "The Bachelor." He was part of the production team.
Hannah Rodriguez covers retail for the Register. Reach her at email@example.com or on Twitter @byherodriguez.
Seeking Hy-Vee lovebirds
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Hy-Vee, 'Bachelor' producer filming a dating show in grocery stores